'Occupy ICE' protest shuts down immigration hearings in NYC

'Occupy ICE' protest shuts down immigration hearings in NYC
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Federal immigration authorities canceled a series of immigration hearings on Monday in response to an “Occupy ICE” protest at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in New York City.

Justice Department officials notified immigration attorneys of the cancellation on Sunday night due to the protesters’ occupation of the ICE building on Varick Street, according to a Gothamist report.

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The building serves as a processing center and temporary detention facility for immigrants arrested in New York City.

The Occupy ICE movement erupted nationwide over the weekend in response to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which has resulted in more than 2,000 migrant children being separated from their parents.

The New York City protest is led by the Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council (MACC).

The group told Gothamist that their objective is to block ICE agents from exiting the building or transferring immigrants to jails outside the city. An organizer said that one protester had been arrested after attempting to block an ICE van.

Many protesters celebrated the news that their occupation prompted delays in some operations at the center. Others, including at least one attorney, said that the decision was actually in the agency’s favor and may result in some immigrants being detained for weeks longer than expected.

Rachael Yong Yow, a spokesperson for ICE, told Gothamist in a statement that the protesters were “spreading misinformation and advocating violence,” and that the decision to cancel hearings was “made in order to ensure the safety of ICE employees, the court, the public and the detainees.”